Skip to main content

Orphaned Elephant Interaction

By June 18, 2021January 26th, 2023No Comments

For the love of Elephants

In the heart of the Klein Karoo, nestled in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains, Buffelsdrift Private Game Reserve is a sanctuary for three orphaned African elephants. Situated just a few miles from Oudtshoorn, the Ostrich Capital of the world, Buffelsdrift Private Game Reserve is also home to over 22 wildlife species including free-roaming cheetah, hippos and more than 200 bird species.

"Nature’s great masterpiece, an Elephant, the only harmless great thing."

John Donne

At Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, the primary objectives of conservation and sustainability is seen in the everyday running of the reserve and the care of the wildlife under their protection. The three gentle giants were rescued from certain death from their Kruger National Park home after the adults in their family were killed by poachers. There is an ongoing struggle between farming communities and wildlife reserves that often ends with our beautiful elephants being poached.

These three youngsters made their way to Oudtshoorn, to the Buffelsdrfit Game Reserve, where Head Elephant Guide, Joseph Maseko was on hand to care for them and rear them to adulthood. Joseph spent many hours and nights at their side to ensure their survival. It is important to note that the elephants were rescued as orphans and not removed from the wild for captivity and human pleasure. If they were not moved to Buffelsdrift Game Lodge they would not have survived.

Image courtesy of Buffelsdrift Game Lodge

Raising an elephant is a gigantic task with each baby requiring 36 litres of milk every 4 hours.

Jabari (meaning Powerful) is the youngest of the herd with Bulelo (meaning Thank you) the largest of the two bulls. Malaika (meaning Angel) is the only female and is the self-designated matriarch of the little family. Now teenagers, the three elephants roam freely through the reserve with their carers never too far away. At night they sleep in a protected camp to avoid any poaching risks.

Meeting the three musketeers is an incredibly humbling experience. Although calm and gentle as can be, these intelligent and sociable mammals are not trained but have become habituated to humans due to their hand-rearing. This in turn makes it impossible to return them into the wild.

Feeling the touch of a trunk inquisitively exploring you as you caress their wrinkly coarse skin is one of life’s little wonders. An experience that will forge memories and stories forever. Your introduction to Jabari, Bulelo, and Malaika begins with a short talk by Joseph who is passionate about his “family”. He introduces you to each one, explains their personalities, lifestyle and intelligence. An educational encounter that emphasizes why the conservation of this species is paramount. Joseph ensures that you have every opportunity to gather anecdotes and photographs as he tells you their story and shares the incredible wisdom of the elephants with you.

"They say an elephant never forgets. What they don't tell you is, you never forget an elephant."

Bill Murray

The Buffelsdrift Three are unfortunately not the only elephants orphaned due to poaching. An area in North Eastern Namibia has also seen its fair share of community struggles. Born from the need to assist more elephants, Buffelsdrift Game Lodge took on the plight of these orphans and set up the Buffelsdrift Foundation. Supporting not only the Buffelsdrift Three but also 125 free roaming elephants in Namibia. The foundation raises funds to monitor and protect the desert elephants and ensure that they remain a fixture in our world.

The Foundation acts as custodian and guardian of a very special species. By enjoying an ethical and educational experience at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, you are making a difference to many lives.

"Are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?"

Sir David Attenborough
This experience is featured in our signature South Africa journey
Signature South Africa
Create a lifetime of memories in South Africa

Gain access to private venues & golf courses, combined with unique dining experiences and special entertainment. Experience an authentic safari at one of the most incredible and award-winning safari destinations on the continent with private rangers and safari vehicles.